Two Woman Convicted In Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
HOUSTON – Yevette Lauren Walton and Lakisha Lashell Rogers have entered pleas of guilty for conspiring to submit fraudulent tax refund claims in the names of 53 stolen identities during the current 2013 tax season, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with Lucy Cruz, special agent in charge of Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). Walton and Rogers were prosecuted as part of the national Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) initiative that has resulted in arrests throughout the United States in recent months.
“These SIRF cases exemplify the IRS’s intense focus on the pursuit of refund fraud and identity thieves,” said Cruz. “We will continue to work in partnership with law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to hold those accountable that engage in identity theft and systematically defraud the government and the taxpaying public.”
Today, Walton and Rogers admitted that between Feb. 15, 2013, and Feb. 27, 2013, they met with a tax return preparer, interviewed him and concluded he could prepare and electronically file false tax refund claims for them. Walton and Rogers provided this person with approximately 37 names, Social Security numbers and other means of identification. Walton and/or Rogers told the tax return preparer the names were “good” because they had previously been used to get refunds.
The women also provided automated teller machine debit card routing numbers. This way, the refunds, which were expected to total approximately $220,000, could be credited to the cards and easily used to withdraw funds in an untraceable manner. Walton and Rogers then engaged in a number of telephone conversations with the tax return preparer to check on the status of the refund claims.
Upon their arrests, Walton and Rogers had another 16 names and other means of identification on them intended to be used to file a second set of false and fraudulent refund claims approximately totaling an additional $200,000. Despite Walton’s and Rogers’ efforts, prompt action by federal law enforcement prevented any actual loss to the National Treasury from the use of the 53 stolen identities during 2013. However, actual losses of about $60,000 and attempted losses of approximately $120,000 have been traced to fraudulent tax refunds in 2012.
U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal, who accepted the guilty pleas, has set sentencing for Aug. 21, 2013, at which time Walton and Rogers face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Both women were arrested March 8, 2013, and have been in custody since that time where they will remain pending sentencing.
The investigation leading to these charges was conducted by IRS-CI and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmy Sledge Jr. is prosecuting the case.